Legislative update, week 13: Lawmakers return with big to-do list

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After a one-week spring break, Minnesota state lawmakers will return to the Capitol Tuesday with a long list of things they want to accomplish before an expected adjournment in mid-May.

Just a few of the highlights:

Budget/bonding

Gov. Mark Dayton has offered a revised budget proposal for the next two years that aims to pull the state out of a forecasted $627 million budget deficit, in large part by raising taxes on the wealthy (single filers who earn $150,000 a year or couples who make $250,000). Specifically, if Dayton's plan were approved, 54,440 Minnesota tax filers would have to pay higher rates, the Star Tribune reported.

Republicans disagree with that approach. They say soaking the rich hurts the job creators who are trying to kick the state’s economy into a higher gear. Meanwhile, House and Senate DFL plans mostly line up with Dayton. Dayton and DFL lawmakers propose spending roughly $38 billion over the biennium.

Separately, Dayton plans to soon unveil a detailed bonding bill proposal for about $750 million worth of spending on public works projects, including some for state Capitol renovation.

Gay marriage

House and Senate committees last month approved legislation that would legalize gay marriage in the state, a high-profile issue that has drawn even more interest as the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a federal law that withholds federal benefits from gay married couples, even in states where gay marriage is legal. A vote is expected in the full House and Senate after budget battles are settled.

Guns

Testimony on legislation aimed at curbing gun violence has sparked passionate testimony this session. Early proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines do not have widespread support. Debate now is focused on whether to expand background checks for gun buyers.

Lawmakers have lots of other legislation on their plates, on issues spanning a proposed minimum wage hike, frac sand mining, and a wolf hunt moratorium.

Forum Communications has an at-a-glance list of two dozen issues lawmakers are likely to tackle in the final dash to adjournment.

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